The team at Macvine International imported a new selection of wines from Chablis and Burgundy just over a month ago. They were so excited with their wares they promptly set up tastings in both Wellington and Martinborough, both of which were very well attended not just through quantity, but quality as well. I went along to the Martinborough tasting. It was me and a couple dozen winemakers and viticulturalists. A rather knowledgeable group. A rather intimidating group. But also a great group to learn from.
These wines were specifically selected first based on local reputation and their tasting notes, then on the tasting experience of Macvine’s Managing Director, Michael Jemison. These tastings were as much an opportunity for enthusiastic wine drinkers to check out the wines on offer as a bit of market research for Macvine. They insisted on opinions, they encouraged controversial ones. And they got it.
What follows are my impressions of the wines we tasted. If you want the short version, overall, Grossot faired far better than the Defaix.
2011 Domaine Bernard Defaix Chablis Cuvee Veille Vigne RRP $52
A more new world style of Chardonnay with its ripe citrus fruit, a bite of crisp green apple and naturally high acid character. The wine blends a quarter oak fermented, oak aged wine with three quarters anaerobically fermented and aged wine. The touch of oak helps create a nice weight to the wine with a creamy texture to go along with the almond and vibrant white floral flavours.
2010 Corrinne et Jean-Pierre Grossot Chablis Cuvee La Part des Anges RRP $50
This is a more classical Chablis style Chardonnay with prominent musky, waxy lanolin aromas and flavours integrated well with the subtle oak characters of vanilla and nuttiness. The La Part des Anges, the Angel’s Share, hints at the highish (13% abv) alcohol but carries it well.
Chablis Premier Cru
2010 Corrinne et Jean-Pierre Grossot Chablis 1er Cru Vaucoupin RRP $58
The 2010 Vaucoupin is ripe and aromatic with a powerful layer of sharp, funky, musky lanolin enveloping the wine. Fermented only in stainless steel this wine combines delicate florals, zesty citrus and a decent weight. This wine is entirely unfamiliar, but it grows on me. This is one to enjoy on a cool autumnal day, rather than a hot summer’s evening.
2009 Corrinne et Jean-Pierre Grossot Chablis 1er Cru Vaucoupin RRP $58
Thin and lean, this is an interesting wine as 2009 was the hotter year over the powerful, weighty 2010 we just tasted. The wine was verging on too hot and yet there’s not much body to it. There’s a sharp, savoury, tangy scent coming through. I’m nearly overwhelmed by it. The wine is stripped of any freshness or fruit. Turns out there were two bottles served on the night, one with an obvious fault, one without. There was no third bottle to go around. Those who had the untainted bottle seemed quite happy.
2011 Domaine Bernad Defaix Chablis 1er Cru Cote de Lechet RRP $60
Freshly floral and aromatic fruit as the wine opens, hints of oyster shell in time. The perfumed nose sits apart from the more savoury elements of the wine and it’s not as well integrated as it could be. It is rather lean with high acidity and alcohol, overall resulting in an unbalanced wine. At a lesser price-point it could be seen as refreshing.
2009 Corrinne et Jean-Pierre Grossot Chablis 1er Cru Mont de Millieu RRP $62
A very likeable wine. Fruity with good length. A similar expression of florals, fruit and oyster shell as the previous wine but with the Grossot the aromatic and savoury character is well integrated. It has the good weight of a full bodied wine and a silk textured mouth-feel.
Rully Premier Cru
2011 Domaine Jaeger Defaix Rully 1er Cru Les Cloux RRP $63
The wines of Rully are meant to represent good value for money as it sits within the less prestigious Cote Chalonnaise sub-region in Burgundy. The grapes are grown in Rully by Jaeger Defaix, they’re made into wine by his cousin Bernard Defaix a 2-hour drive north in Chablis. There’s weight, power and florals on this one. But there’s also the obvious touch of the winemaker influence with pronounced oak and hints of sulphur dioxide.
2011 Domaine Jaeger Defaix Rully 1er Cru Rabource RRP $63
Aromatic, bright and elegant this Rully has a more restrained winemaker treatment and I would happily drink this one again. Or at least I thought so until I looked at the price. The wine has some nice minerality and almond notes that blend well with an agreeably dry wine with a lovely long finish.
Regional Red Burgundy
2012 Bernard Defaix Bourgogne RRP $38
This is an easy-drinking generic red Burgundy with almost no tannin apart from a faint earthiness. This wine is thin and watery with strong cordial and floral aromas mixed with strawberry flavours. Its inconsequential nature means I can drink its sugary sweetness without thinking much about it. It lacks complexity and is verging on a simple rose in terms of flavour but this frivolous wine still has the ability to be entirely enjoyable.
2011 Domaine Dominique Guyon Hautes Cotes de Nuit Les Dames de Vergy RRP $52
There’s a bit more depth to this one with some savoury notes of earth, beetroot and smoke along with a touch of dusted strawberries. There are few primary qualities about it and the wine comes off as rather hard. I didn’t get terribly excited over this one. There were comments around the room that the wine just needs time and will be better with age. Might be the case.
Village Red Burgundy
2011 Domaine Antonin Guyon Savigny-les-Beaune Les Goudelettes RRP $78
This is a happy, cherry wine and a good example of a village wine. It’s clean and savoury, but not terribly pretty with limited fruit expression, making it a more traditional style pinot noir. Medium tanning mix with a soft, creamy mouthfeel and a decent length. See this wine as a village red burgundy and you’re able to enjoy it for what it is. I would gladly drink this one again although I do struggle with the price charged for this quality level.
Premier and Grand Cru Red Burgundy
2010 Domaine Antonin Guyon Volnay 1er Cru Clos des Chenes RRP $130
This is a very approachable beauty of a wine for its price point. The Premier Cru, as the flagship wine from Guyon, is a feminine and delicate Pinot with lifted floral aromatics, smooth, medium tannin and well-integrated medium acidity and alcohol. The essence of this wine is that it shows pure, simple elegance. Best of all, this wine is still very young and it will continue to evolve with age.
2010 Domaine Antonin Guyon Corton Clos du Roy Grand Cru RRP $190
A smooth, rich Grand Cru, this is a plush, meaty style of Pinot Noir. The wine is balanced and well-integrated with notes of cherry, strawberry and the nutty influence of oak that combines with ripe, round tannins. It’s a thinking wine, one you want to take your time with to allow the wine to really blossom.